First Impressions

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Aired on: FOX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            By now, you must know that I am a HUGE Terminator fan!  I’ve seen the movies, read the books…I’ve even checked out the comics.  When FOX announced a new television series based upon the Terminator movies, I was both excited and a tad worried.  I’ve seen television series based on movies before.  Movies don’t often translate well into series and I was worried that this series, entitled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, would be horrible.  I was especially worried when I noticed that the series premiere would contain a teenage John Connor.  I had the distinct impression that this series would be geared toward younger crowds.  Add to that the time constraints that would be present – the fact that John was in his early twenties in the third Terminator film.  How long could this series last?  It was with both excitement and trepidation that I tuned in to FOX on Sunday, January 13, 2008 (and again on Monday, January 14th for the second episode) to watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

            I needn’t have worried.  Although the series is geared toward a younger generation of Terminator fans, older fans will find plenty to enjoy!  The series begins in 1999, some time after Terminator 2 and the destruction of Cyberdine, a company that would have eventually built Skynet, leading to the destruction of the world as we know it and the rise of the machines.  Sarah Connor has a boyfriend.  Her teenage son attends high school.  Things seem normal.  Sarah’s boyfriend asks her to marry him shortly after Sarah experiences a nightmare in which a new Terminator targets and kills her son right before her eyes.  Naturally, Sarah decides that she and her son have become too comfortable in their lives and must move on, much to the chagrin of John Connor.  But the move to another city does not go smoothly.  John Reese, as he is now called, runs into trouble on the very first day at his new school.  The teacher turns out to be a Terminator with instructions to destroy his student.  Just when it seems that all hope is lost, we discover that one of John’s fellow students is a newer model Terminator with orders to protect John at all costs.

            Now, as I said, it’s rather obvious that this series is geared toward a younger generation, what with two of its major characters – John and Cameron (John’s protector) – both teenagers.  Obviously, viewers are going to see what it’s like to have the burden of being the savior of the human race placed upon the shoulders of a petulant teenager.  However, this series also offers a more in-depth look at Sarah Connor, mother to the savior of the universe – tough cookie on the outside, confused and perpetually worried woman on the inside.  It gives my generation a reason to watch the show and offers a role model in a strong female lead character.  Add to that the incredible scenes involving shoot-‘em up, smash ‘em up, and sometimes crash into ‘em action and awesome car and motorcycle chase scenes and you have a series that packs some serious punch.

            But what about the storyline?  Does this series match up with the continuity of the movies?  Remember that line from m the original Terminator film – “the future is not set” – and you’ll understand how this series gets around that little time constraint issue.  Knowing that certain things would have to happen at a certain time – such as Sarah Connor dying of cancer prior to John Connor’s adulthood – the creators of the series decided to change the future.  They created a new window by having Sarah, John and Cameron enter a time portal, propelling themselves into 2007 and thus changing the way things are supposed to happen.  Now, they exist in a time two years after Sarah would have died.  The future, once again, is no longer set and all things are possible!  Kudos to the writer who thought up that idea!

            Some people may think it unbelievable that so many Terminators have been sent back to destroy John Connor, but I for one think this idea is spot on.  After all, as Kyle Reese said in the original Terminator movie, “Listen. And understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”  In keeping with the single-mindedness of these machines, it would make sense that the machines would not stop sending replacements through the portal until the very end of their existence…theirs, or John Connor’s, whichever comes first.  Thus, I love the idea that we are going to see quite a few different Terminators sent to hunt down Sarah, John and Cameron in the weeks to come.

            Thus far, the actors have yet to show their true range in the series.  However, I must say that the casting of Lena Headey (300, The Cave) as Sarah Connor and Thomas Dekker (Heroes) as John Connor was terrific.  Headey has very similar characteristics to those of Linda Hamilton in the first movie and Dekker looks like a younger version of Nick Stahl in the third Terminator film.  Summer Glau (The 4400, Firefly) is interesting as a female Terminator – she definitely has all the moves down, that’s for sure.  The storyline of Richard T. Jones (Girlfriends, Judging Amy) as James Ellison, an FBI agent who has been hunting Sarah Connor for years is an interesting twist and I wonder how far they can go with that.  I have been hearing some complaints about the John Connor in this series.  People are saying that this character is whiny and somewhat wimpy.  However, if people were really paying attention to the dialogue in the two episodes I watched, they would have noticed Cameron telling Sarah that the John Connor she is protecting at the moment is not the John Connor that saves the world…”not yet”.  This dialogue suggests that John becomes hardened after some future events in his life, becoming the heroic character we expect him to be when he saves mankind from the terror of the machines.

            I can honestly say that I made a mistake in thinking that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was going to be a disaster.  I truly enjoyed both premiere episodes and can’t wait until the next episode on Monday at 9PM EST.  Though I worry about the staying power of the series simply because of the fickleness of TV viewers who have some serious A.D.D when it comes to television series, I truly believe that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is destined to be this season’s hit television series.


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